Career Success and Dropping Out — Should You Be Like Steve Jobs?

Today I have some more career success advice based on Steve Jobs’ life.  In many ways, he was a bigger than life figure.  Much has been written about his since he passed away.  There’s a new biography out.  60 Minutes did a feature on him Sunday night.  Bloomberg Business Week did a special issue commemorating his life.  A whole lot of people like to focus on the fact that he dropped out of college.

Suddenly it is cool to be a drop out.  The business section of the Sunday New York Times had an article pointing out the Bill Gates and Paul Allen co-founders of Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, were college drop outs.  I’ve even read a few blogs where people have compared themselves to Steve Jobs – pointing out that they too, were drop outs.

Yes, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College, but he was not like a lot of other drop outs.  He hung around for another 18 months dropping in to courses.  A lot has been written about how the calligraphy course he audited led to personal computers having a variety of font selections.  That 18 month period in Steve Jobs life demonstrated his commitment to lifelong learning – an important life and career success skill.

Tweet 81 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Become a lifelong learner.  The half-life of knowledge is rapidly diminishing.  Staying in the same place is the same as going backwards.”  Steve Jobs dropped out of college, but he hung around for another 18 months, learning things that helped him later in life.  I had a few friends who dropped out.  I bet you did too.  However, none of my friends who dropped out hung around audited courses – unless you consider tending bar as a learning experience.  None of them start billion dollar businesses either.

If you want to become the life and career success you deserve to be, you need to become a lifelong learner – whether you stayed in school and finished your degree, or dropped out.  The other day, I came across a great quote from Louis L’Amour, the great American writer of stories about the old west.  I think this quote captures the essence of lifelong learning…

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning.”

I know a lot about life and career success.  I’ve written several books on the subject.  I give lots of talks about it.  I’ve coached hundreds of people – helping them build the life and career success they want and deserve.  I write this blog.  At one point, I thought I knew it all.

And you know what?  Every time I write about life and career success, every time I speak about it, every time I coach someone offering my career advice, I gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to create life and career success

I begin anew every day, doing whatever I can to learn about life and career success so I can pass on this knowledge and wisdom to others.  I choose to keep learning.  So should you.  Pay attention here – this is solid career advice.  I’ve learned that if you don’t keep learning, you don’t stand still – you fall behind in the game of life.  I’ve also learned that what I learned after I knew it all was some of the best and most important of my learnings.

Thomas Carlyle once said, “What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us.  The greatest university of all is a collection of books.”  He lived in the 19th century.  If he were alive today, he might have amended his statement to say, “Books and the Internet are the greatest university of all.”  Today, so many of the great books, as well as other life and career success information, are available on line.  The Internet is a great way to access this information.  The important thing is to keep learning – how you do it and where you get your information is secondary.

I have a huge collection of books on a variety of subjects.  These books are the first place I turn when I am looking for information to post on my blog, when I am working with my career success coach clients, when I am preparing a speech and when I am designing a training program.  When I can’t find what I’m looking for in my books, I go on line.

My best common sense suggestion for becoming a lifelong learner is simple.  Read.  Read technical journals.  Read trade magazines.  Read business publications like “The Wall Street Journal,” “Business Week,” “Fortune” and “Forbes.”  If you think they’re too stodgy, read “Fast Company.”

Read your company’s annual report.  Read your competitors’ annual reports.  Read your local newspaper and “The New York Times.”  Read news magazines like “Newsweek” and “Time.”  Read business and industry blogs.  Read ezines and eBooks.  Read books.  Reading is the best way to stay up with what’s happening in business, in your industry and in the world.

There are other things you can do to keep learning.  Attend seminars.  Join the major groups or trade associations for your industry.  Attend their meetings and participate.  Volunteer for committee work.  Become known locally in your field.  Take a class at your local university.  Use your company’s tuition reimbursement program to get a free undergraduate or Master’s degree.

Your education doesn’t stop when you graduate from college or get an MBA, it begins anew.  There are many ways to keep learning.  Decide which ones work for you, and then follow through.  Outstanding performers are competent.  They stay competent because they are lifelong learners.

I agree with Albert Einstein who said…

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong learning attempt to acquire it.”

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people are lifelong learners.  They follow the career advice in tweet 81 in Success Tweets.  “Become a lifelong learner.  The half-life of knowledge is rapidly diminishing.  Staying in the same place is the same as going backward.”  Lifelong learning is really important to creating the successful life and career you want and deserve.  Remember what Louis L’Amour says: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning.”  Treat each new day as an opportunity to learn.  Stay open to new people and new ideas.  If you do this, you’ll come to realize that you are never finished learning and that what you learn after you know it all is the most valuable knowledge you’ll develop.

That’s the career advice I take from reflecting on Steve Jobs life.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.

Bud

PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site on September 1.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  To celebrate the grand opening, I’m giving away a new career advice book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb.  You can find out about the membership site and get the career advice in I Want YOU… for free by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.

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Comments

  1. james arthur says:

    read books

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